A legal framework known as the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) law was established in India to safeguard women from sexual harassment at work. The law is based on the recommendations of the Supreme Court in the landmark Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan case, which determined that sexual harassment at work constitutes a violation of a woman’s fundamental right to dignity and that the employer must provide a secure work environment for women.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, also known as the POSH law, was passed in 2013 and is applicable to all workplaces, including those in the public and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, and educational institutions. The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad and encompasses unwanted physical contact, advances, requests for sexual favours, and remarks with a sexual undertone.
Every workplace is required by the POSH law to have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to handle claims of sexual harassment. The ICC is composed of an external member, who is a legal expert or a women’s rights activist, and an internal member, who is an employee of the organization. The ICC has the power to conduct inquiries into complaints of sexual harassment, make recommendations for disciplinary action, and provide relief to the complainant.
All employees, including contract and temporary workers, must participate in regular programs that educate them about sexual harassment and the POSH law. The law also requires employers to make the workplace safe and welcoming for women and to prevent sexual harassment.
In India, the workplace culture has undergone significant changes as a result of the POSH law. Employers are now required to take action to prevent sexual harassment and to foster a culture where women feel safe and empowered. Currently, there is a legal framework in place for women who have experienced sexual harassment at work to seek redress, and employers are held responsible for their actions.
The POSH law’s implementation has faced some difficulties, though. There have been instances where the ICC has been influenced or compromised, and some employers have been reluctant to follow the law. Women in the unorganized sector, who are more susceptible to sexual harassment, are also not protected by the law.
Increased knowledge and sensitivity of the law and its provisions are necessary to address these issues. In order to effectively implement the POSH law and ensure that women are protected from sexual harassment in all spheres of society, the government and civil society organizations must collaborate.
In conclusion, the POSH law is an important step toward giving women in India a workplace that is secure and empowering. However, how well it is put into practice will determine how effective it is, so ongoing awareness-raising and compliance-ensuring efforts are required. Employers, workers, and the government can collaborate to develop a work environment that values gender equality and is free from sexual harassment.
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